find relatives online

How to Find Long-Lost Relatives Online?



Over time, many people lose touch with important family members as they move states and even countries. Fortunately, if you are thinking of reaching out to a long-lost relative or even connecting with someone in your family you have never met, there are a range of online tools and techniques to help with your quest.

Here are the top ones we recommend.


1. Search on Google

Every minute, 5.9 million searches are carried out on Google’s search platform. The search giant’s popularity for both desktop and mobile searches is buoyed by its impressive indexing capabilities and sharp algorithms that allow it to rummage through trillions of web pages on the internet to find answers to queries in a fraction of a second.

But how exactly can Google help you find a long-lost family member? The answer lies in your digital data footprint.

Anyone connected to the internet leaves around some form of digital clue. Perhaps they have set up a profile on a social media platform, signed up for a newsletter, asked a question on an online forum, or appeared in a news article of a high school publication.

Google can help you discover these digital breadcrumbs as long as they appear in a public domain that has been indexed.

What is the best way to search Google? Start by putting together whatever information you know or remember about the person you intend to find. You might know their first and last name, address, or workplace. Sometimes, you may even have a few photos. All these can be useful for your search.

For a text-based search, type the relevant person’s name on the search bar so Google can find the best possible matches. If there are lots of matching search results, go through the first 20-30 web links.

Keep in mind that tracking someone using a name is not always easy unless they have a unique or rare name. So, to find the right person, you might need to add a few other personal details, such as a city or workplace.

Don’t forget to use Google’s image search feature, too. It allows you to uncover information by uploading a photo or a link to an image.

Pros & Cons

The biggest advantage of using Google is the ability to filter and identify relevant web pages based on specific keywords. Searches on the platform are also free and lightning fast.

However, what the search engine could find for you is limited in some instances. For example, it would not be able to detect and display pages that have blocked indexing.

In addition, going through each page that appears on the search results could be time-consuming. But, it is still worth the effort, considering Google’s search service is free.  


2. Browse Social Media

From Facebook, Instagram, and X to LinkedIn and YouTube, Americans frequently spend time on a variety of social media sites. This makes networking platforms an excellent source for finding relatives you have lost touch with.

Many of these sites offer a search bar to discover users and content. Some, such as LinkedIn, even provide search filters to narrow down your query based on a user’s location and various other criteria.

Even if you can’t find the relevant individual on a networking platform, there is a high chance you will discover someone else who knows them.

Therefore, share a few photos and details about your relative and ask your network to help uncover some useful information.

These types of posts tend to go viral, increasing the likelihood of finding a few clues to your family’s whereabouts.


Pros & Cons

Search facilities on social media platforms are available for free.

However, many would require you to have an account with them to access their advance search features. This is often because of the privacy settings networking sites provide their users to prevent those outside the site or their immediate network from finding their profiles.


3. Use a People Search Site

People search platforms are in the business of finding people data. For this, they access public data sources, including state directories and social media, to identify useful personal information, which they sort and organize to create searchable databases.

Depending on the specific site, you can search records using first and last names, emails, phone numbers, addresses, usernames, and similar identifiers.

But what type of information can a people search platform retrieve about your family members? They can find a recent address, contact information, work details, and even criminal records.


Pros & Cons

The main upside to using a people search site like Nuwber is their ability to identify and filter relevant people data to create concise reports. This saves you from the hassle of going through different information sources, as is the case with using Google and social media.

However, many of these sites charge a fee for their search services, usually as a one-time payment or a monthly subscription. Therefore, comparing people lookup services and their rates is important before selecting one.

Choosing a site that adopts ethical data collection practices is equally essential. 


4. Opt for a Genealogy Service

These organizations allow you to conduct DNA tests and create family trees to discover long-lost family members.

If the person you are searching for is in their databases, you can significantly improve your chances of finding them online by signing up.


Pros & Cons

Genealogy services cost money. So, ensure you assess your specific requirements before you opt for them. The main advantage of genealogy services is that the results are accurate, and if you are increasingly dedicated to finding your long-lost relatives, this is an effective option.


Wrapping Up

Reconnecting with a relative from your past or a distant family member you know little of is a wonderful way to extend your family connections and learn more about your ancestry.

Fortunately, you can now speed up this process significantly thanks to technology and digital connectivity.

Our top sources for finding long-lost relatives include Google, social media, people search sites, and genealogy services. Each has advantages and a few drawbacks. So, weigh the pros and cons and select the tools that match your needs and available resources.